Battle for UDA ticket in Deputy President Ruto’s backyard thrills

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Former Bomet governor, who is the leader of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party Isaac Ruto. Photo/PD/FILE

Wycliffe Kipsang

The stage is set for a bruising battle in Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard as political heavyweights eye the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) gubernatorial ticket. 

People Daily has established that most of the candidates are jostling for DP’s endorsement, which they feel will be a sure bet for them to ascend to the coveted positions. 

A battle of titans is expected in Baringo county as former Governor Benjamin Cheboi plans to battle it out for the UDA ticket with the incumbent Stanley Kiptis. 

Kiptis beat Cheboi in the Jubilee primaries in 2017 and went ahead to win the seat. 

Cheboi yesterday acknowledged contemplating making a second stab at the gubernatorial seat ‘if the people decide.’ 

“I will make a decision when the time comes. There are a lot of projects I started and I would want to come and complete them. If the people decide that I come back, I will not hesitate to run,”  he said. 

Governor Kiptis, who beat Cheboi by a huge margin in 2017 has dared his rivals to prepare for a bruising contest in 2022. 

“My development track record is there for everyone to see. Let them come. The people will decide who is the best candidate,” said Kiptis.

According to Baringo County Whip Reuben Chepsongol, anybody who clinches the UDA ticket stands a high chance of being the next county boss.

“People have matured politically and will go for individual track record not those who engage in empty political rhetoric,” said Chepsongol, also the Bartabwa Ward MCA.

Others said to be eyeing the UDA ticket is the Wildlife and Tourism Principal Secretary Prof Fred Segor and Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui. 

The duo are yet to formally announce their 2022 political plans but they have recently heightened their activities at the grassroots launching projects and attending public functions. 

Chelugui,  was in 2017, prevailed upon by Ruto to vie for the senatorial seat and leave the gubernatorial one to Cheboi.  

Chelugui, however, lost to Senator Gideon Moi and was later appointed Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary in the Jubilee administration.  

In Nandi county, the incumbent Stephen Sang is facing the battle of his life to clinch the UDA ticket and heavy weights plot to unseat him.

Among those said to be interested in the seat are former Governor Dr Cleophas Lagat, who reports seeks to take advantage of widespread lamentations that the youthful governor has performed below  expectations. 

A spot check by People Daily revealed that many projects started by Lagat including the governor’s residence in Kapsabet have stalled in what is viewed as rivalry between Lagat and Sang. 

Sang has dared his rivals that he is ready to face them in next year’s political battle. 

Also said to be eyeing the UDA ticket include Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, who has been a harsh critic of Governor Sang’s administration and former Agriculture Cabinet secretary Felix Kosgey. 

Also in the race to unseat Governor Sang is Allan Kosgey, son of  former powerful Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey, who has been engaging in a war of words with the governor. 

Value addition

Kosgey has been making inroads at the grassroots through attending various functions and highlighting shortcomings in Sang’s administration.

In Uasin Gishu county, plans to succeed Governor Jackson Mandago, who has serving his second and last term have intensified with Soy MP Caleb Kositany, former Kenya ambassador to Pakistan Julius Bitok, Nairobi County Devolution Executive Vesca Kangogo and former Kanu official Jonathan Bii said to be eyeing the UDA ticket. 

Kositany, a close ally to the DP was yesterday categorical that he is the most qualified to succeed Governor Mandago next year. 

“Yes I’ll be seeking the blessings of the people for the gubernatorial position next year. My main area of focus will be to improve the welfare of our farmers by investing in value addition,” Kositany, the former Jubilee Party deputy secretary general told People Daily

Others said to be eyeing the UDA gubernatorial ticket include business moguls: Zedekiah Bundotich alias Buzeki and David Lagat alias DL. 

Lagat is yet to formally announce if he will vie but has been active at the grassroots by contributing towards public projects and church functions. 

He is said to have been in the past been behind sponsoring politicians during elections in the vast Rift Valley region. 

The name of flamboyant Kesses MP Dr Swarup Mishra has also been fronted but he is yet to openly pronounce himself on the matter. Mishra said that he currently has no plans for the gubernatorial seat. 

“My plans are now focused on serving the people of Kesses,” he stated in a statement. Governor Mandago comes from Soy constituency and so is Kositany. There is a push in the county that the gubernatorial seat should go to another constituency this time round. 

Kangogo, the only woman in the race who vied in the Jubilee primaries in 2013 and came third has also hit the ground running to sell her agenda to the people. 

“I’ve gained enough management skills and better suited for the job having served in a big county such as  Nairobi,”said Kangogo.  The candidate who will clinch the UDA ticket will face off with Buzeki who was  Mandago’s runner-up  in 2017 as an independent candidate. 

 Buzeki has heightened activities at the grassroots and has been presenting himself in most public functions to sell his development agenda to the people. He has also been sponsoring sports activities. 

The politician has also been providing free food and economic empowerment to residents of Uasin Gishu County by distributing seeds. 

Fold party 

Buzeki recently resigned as Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) secretary general. He is yet to announce the party he will use to vie for the same seat in  2022. 

Two months ago, he paid a courtesy call on former deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress (ANC) but the details of their meeting remain a secret to date.  

“None of my opponents matches my development agenda for Uasin-Gishu county.  Let them face me at the ballot and the people will decide,” Buzeki said on phone. 

Though Mandago is yet to endorse anyone to succeed him, he is on record saying that he will not hand over power to the ‘wrong person’. 

“We have done a lot as a government and we will not want somebody who will come and derail our legacy,” said Mandago. 

The same has been witnessed in the South Rift where in Bomet, CCM party leader Isaac Ruto, Petroleum CAS John Mosonik and Hillary Barchok will battle it out. 

Ruto has indicated that he will not fold his party but will instead support the Deputy President, leaving Mosonik and Barchok to battle for the UDA ticket.

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